Author: Kelly Link
Rating: 4.5 stars
I received a copy of this book through NetGalley in exchange for a fair review.
I love, love, love Kelly Link’s collection Magic For Beginners, but I haven’t read her work in a long time. So I was very excited to find Get in Trouble available on NetGalley. I knew that I was going to enjoy it, but it surpassed even my high expectations.
The eight stories* in Get in Trouble all feature characters with secrets, characters who feel trapped but struggle anyway. The struggle, not their success or failure, is the point of it all. That can make it seem plenty dark, but sometimes darkness is a great thing.
Link is a great transition author, who can appeal to genre and non-genre readers alike. Her surreal worlds blend the magic and the mundane in unexpected ways. It can take a while to unpack them–are those cosplayers, or actual superheroes? Is that a real demon, or just a sad, past-his-prime actor? What are the sleepers, and does the answer even really matter? The magic of those worlds feels real, and raw, and slightly dirty, like a residue remains on your skin when you leave them.
The award for creepiest story in the collection goes to “Two Houses,” (also the most overtly science-fictional) where a spaceship crew tells ghost stories that eventually reveal something sinister about their own circumstances. Funniest for me was “The New Boyfriend,” in which the politics of teen girl friendship are complicated by one girl’s Boyfriends, living dolls that are status symbols and fantasy wish fulfillment. My favorite was also one of the most troubling, “Secret Identity,” in which a teenage girl runs away to meet the older lover she met–and deceived–in an online gaming community. But really, there’s not a single story in this collection that I didn’t enjoy. If you asked me to pick my favorites on another day, I’d probably have another list for you. And really, that’s the best indicator of a great writer and a great collection.
*Apparently in the final version of the collection there are 9 stories, but in my egalley there were only 8!